Trigger Warning: Domestic Abuse, Assault, Rape
Grey’s Anatomy has been on air for over a decade and has created something very few shows are ever able to achieve: a strong, heartbreaking legacy. This show has really put us through quite the emotional wringer. Fans have stood strong through everything from ghost sex to mass shootings and plane crashes. Grey’s is not for the weak of heart and in season 13, friendships are tested, relationships unravel, and careers hang in balance.
When Shonda Rhimes last left us, we were left with the shocking revelation that the reason that Jo could not marry Alex was not because she was afraid of commitment as many of us might have thought but because she is actually already married. While heavily intoxicated, she revealed to DeLuca the gut wrenching story of her experience with domestic abuse and how she left her abusive spouse and changed her name to escape her home life. She can’t even share her true identity with the people she loves most for fear of being found by her abuser.
Rhimes is known for covering a variety of heavy, controversial topics in her shows including alcoholism, depression,and abortion but she had never touched upon domestic violence until now. Unfortunately, Jo’s experience is not uncommon. According to the National Hotline for Domestic Violence, one in every four women will be a victim of severe domestic violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
After hearing her story, DeLuca decided to help her into bed and let her rest so she could speak to Alex about this in the morning. However, Alex walked into the apartment just as DeLuca was helping Jo get into her bed and Alex assumed the worst and began to beat DeLuca to a bloody pulp. This seems to be a major step backwards in his character development. For the last eleven years, we have witnessed Alex’s development from being a reckless and insensitive man to become the intelligent, compassionate, careful friend and surgeon we all know and love.
Alex has gone from being one of the most hated characters on the show to one of the most beloved. He was one of the original interns and was extremely arrogant even though he had barely made it into the program in the first place. Throughout the seasons we saw him develop into a caring person through his newfound passion for pediatrics. After Meredith lost her person, Cristina, and the love of her life, Derek, Alex stepped up and brought her back to Grey Sloan after her year long disappearance.
Although rash, we can see many facets of Alex’s personality in his actions against DeLuca. On one hand, it was extremely impulsive and showed remnants of the Alex we know from Seasons 1-3, but on the other hand he was “defending” the love of his life. Jo has been Alex’s only romantic interest to truly understand and accept him because she has also been through rough experiences and used the practice of surgery as an escape route. Seeing her in that state could have triggered his obvious hero complex. He took care of his Schizophrenic mother and protected his siblings from his drug addicted father when he was only a child. Early in the series, he was in a relationship with a patient with amnesia he rescued from a ferry boat accident who later developed Borderline Personality Disorder, and we can’t forget his shotgun marriage to Izzie after she was diagnosed with a second brain tumor. Therefore, it only makes sense that Alex reacted the way he did when he believed to witness DeLuca’s attempt to rape her. However, Alex displays guilt and a sense of responsibility by taking DeLuca to the hospital and insisting of operating on him personally.
Throughout the episode, we see Alex attempt to rationalize his actions but when he finally learns the truth of DeLuca’s intentions he realizes his terrible mistake. There is an air of suspense as we wait to see if he’s going to make a run for it or if he’s going to confess to Bailey, the chief of surgery. As we see him glance at the door, it’s almost positive that he’s going to run and never turn back. However, he does not disappoint and marches right up to the officer at the doorway and turns himself in for aggravated assault.
From season 1, everyone expected Alex to end up in some sort of trouble with the law, so it shouldn’t be any shock when he’s getting escorted out of Grey Sloan in handcuffs. However, it is. Maybe for a brief second, Alex reverted to how he was back in Season 1.
Alex Karev is an extremely dynamic and complicated character. We cannot dismiss a decade’s worth of character development to a few seconds of rage. Alex will continue to surprise us and all we can do is attentively wait to see what season 13 holds for Alex’s love life and career. Don’t let us down, Shonda.